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HindustanTimes Tue,21 Oct 2014

Will MNS be able to do an AAP in Maharashtra?

Shailesh Gaikwad, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, January 09, 2014
First Published: 23:13 IST(9/1/2014) | Last Updated: 13:00 IST(10/1/2014)

After a long political hibernation, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray has begun making his moves. Following a setback in civic polls in 2012 when his party not just failed to win Mumbai civic body but could not prevent bête noire Uddhav Thackeray from retaining it, Raj has now become active in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.

On Thursday, he launched an attack on Gujarat chief minister and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. He also pointed out how Modi was talking only about Gujarat and advised the latter to act like leader of entire India and not only of his state. He then also insisted that the MNS was already raising the issues (of corruption) that the Aam Aadmi Party was talking about now.

Going by what his close aides say, it looks like Raj wants to project MNS as third viable political alternative in Maharashtra. The ruling Congress-NCP government is not exactly popular in the state. There is strong anti-incumbency feeling among the people. On the other hand, the opposition Sena-BJP have failed to cash in on the resentment among the people. This is why the Congress-NCP are ruling the state for 14 years. As such, Raj wants to create parallel space for his party.

If his Thursday’s remarks are any indication, Raj wants to distance himself from the Sena-BJP as well. That seems to be the reason why he chose to criticise Modi publicly.

Read: Raj Thackeray sings anti-Modi tune

“In one of recent brainstorming meetings when the issue of joining BJP came up, Rajsaheb told us that he would like to think of long-term gains than the short-term ones. If we manage to create enough space for us by expanding our base, we will emerge as a strong option to Congress-NCP as well as Sena-BJP,”said a key aide of the MNS chief.

Afterall, Lok Sabha election is not Raj’s aim. His target is assembly elections that would be held towards end of 2014. Will he be able to occupy the space that Aam Aadmi Party managed to get in Delhi?

In past seven years since its formation, the MNS has not taken up any issue concerning the people. The only time when it made noise was over its anti-north Indian campaign. Will Raj be able to convince the people that he can fight corruption and think of their welfare?

Will he be able to gear up his party organization to fight the electoral battle across the state? Kejriwal’s experiment in Delhi has probably revived Raj’s hopes and we have one year to see whether he can do the same in Maharashtra.


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